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Every decade brings its own set of cultural norms. While the 50s were the era of classy retro jazz fashion, the 60s morphed into the space-age phenomena. Similarly, the decade of 2000s was all about embracing the modern contemporary, and as we are walking into a fresh new decade on this side of the 21st century, sustainable and slow fashion is starting to become the new norm.
What is slow fashion?
Slow fashion is eco-conscious, environmentally friendly, and uses locally sourced materials. Slow fashion garments are also usually biodegradable, too — so that once you’re done wearing these clothes, they can easily return to the earth. The term “Slow Fashion” was coined in 2007 by Kate Fletcher, and the movement is based on the same principals of the Slow Food Movement.
The slow fashion movement is a response to the damaging environmental impacts of fast fashion — characterized by cheaply made, trendy clothes that only last a single season. Those “throwaway” clothes consume non-renewable resources and create tons of waste, since those low-quality garments can only be worn for a few months. Earth Easy estimates nearly 12 million tons of textile waste is produced each year in North America. That’s roughly 68 lb. of textile waste annually per household!
Overall, slow fashion is about consuming less but gaining quality. The concept is very much in line with the Budget Fashionista “cost-per-wear” philosophy. You can spend more on quality items that you’ll wear again and again. Think about it – would you rather open your closet to dozens of garments that are stretched out, worn, and “formerly” trendy? Or have wardrobe of select items that are unique, excellent quality, and carefully chosen to complement your figure, lifestyle, and design tastes?
How to support slow fashion six ways
Here are six ways you can work slow fashion into your lifestyle.
1. Stop chasing trends
Slow fashion encourages us to be mindful about our consumerism and that unhealthy habit of hankering to get in on the hottest trends, now. It allows us to sit back and think about the impact of our purchases.
These days, everything is available at the click of a button, which is why delving into slow fashion is important. While fast fashion mounts up in landfills, a slow fashion mindset allows us to think deeply about the ethical and environmental impacts of our purchase before clicking on that notorious “add-to-cart” icon.
2. Choose classic styles
These days, much of women’s clothes and accessories are designed and constructed to last only a single season. That isn’t the case with slow fashion. The slow fashion loyalist doesn’t chase trends, however. She builds her wardrobe from timeless pieces that will be stylish and elegant no matter what year it is. A piece you buy today could, or should, remain in your rotation for years. And if your size or tastes change, you should be able to donate that piece and allow someone else to make use of it.
Consider the wild neon colors of the 1990s or the ultra low rise jeans of the 2000s. Those styles look dated now. But a crisp blazer, loafer, or solid-colored shift dress? You could wear those in any decade.
3. Buy quality
Quality construction is important, as is how you care for your clothes. Because no garment should be disposable. And the best part is that price is less of a factor when you’re focused on quality. You can spend a little more on a garment you’ll wear for years, because your cost-per-wear will still be low. And that little treat that you bought yourself for under $15 matters just as much as something that you had to spend a pretty penny on.
You can apply the same concepts to your non-fashion shopping, too. Make-up, skincare, even toys don’t have to be wasteful and environmentally damaging.
4. Evaluate materials
Slow fashion helps us walk that fine line between shopping too much and buying nothing at all. It’s an alternative type of consumption that encourages us to be more sensible about our purchases. The more aware you are of the harmful effects of fast fashion, the more you’ll research the materials, manufacturing process, and sustainability of the products you’re shopping.
5. Buy used
Slow fashion also encourages buying vintage and second-hand garments. Shopping used on Poshmark, thredup, or at your local thrift store is a fabulous strategy for trimming your spend on clothes while showing off your personal style at the same time. And what’s fun is that styles and themes have a way of recycling themselves — like mini backpacks from the 90s — like the so you can find used pieces that still feel modern.
3 Dos of Slow Fashion
Slow fashion is not a trend. It’s a way of life. If you want to try your hand at slow fashion, here are three tips to remember whenever you feel the urge to indulge in some retail therapy:
- Know about green-washing: Green-washing is when popular brands advocate eco-friendly manufacturing in their marketing but don’t really apply the concept to their products. This happens more than you can imagine. Sometimes, only the tags are “sustainable” while the rest of the product is made with synthetic, non-biodegradable materials. Really, you can only trust brands that have full transparency about their materials, manufacturing, and pricing.
- Consider small: More often than not, it’s the homegrown brands and products that can effectively follow the tenets of slow fashion. They typically provide products that are highly qualitative and durable. Yes, there’s a difference in the price range, but remember that you’re investing in quality, not quantity. It’s a long-term investment that might last you many years to come.
- Evergreen and timeless: Trends come and trends go, but there are certain styles that are timeless and always fashionable. Lean towards classic silhouettes, solid colors, and reliable patterns (like stripes and small florals). Before you buy anything that’s remotely flamboyant in cut or design, think about whether you’d wear it next year or the year after. If the answer is no, move on and look for something else.
Here’s the gist of slow fashion: Before you buy another garment, consider how it was manufactured, what it’s made of, and how long it will last before it goes out of style or loses its elasticity, color, or shape. Purchasing higher-end clothing, preferably garments made from natural materials, is your best bet for a long-lasting wardrobe that’s both chic and timeless.